|Bruce Bowen (left) was able to keep the Rockets' Tracy McGrady on uncertain footing. (joe mitchell/Reuters)|
Monta Ellis scored 30 points and Kelenna Azubuike hit two clutch shots down the stretch to help the Golden State Warriors beat the visiting Dallas Mavericks, 114-104, last night to create a three-way tie for seventh place in the ultracompetitive Western Conference.
With nine games remaining, Dallas, Golden State, and Denver are all even at 45-28. If the season ended today, the Warriors would be on the outside looking in at the playoffs because they have lost two of three to both the Nuggets and Mavericks. But if Golden State manages to beat Denver and Dallas in their final meetings, the Mavericks would be the odd team out in a three-way tie.
The Warriors, who fell into ninth place for the first time since Feb. 22 with a loss Saturday at Denver, rebounded against the Mavericks after falling behind by 12 points in the opening minutes. These teams play again Wednesday in Dallas.
Golden State built a 14-point lead in the third quarter but led by only 4 late in the fourth quarter. That's when Azubuike hit a 3-pointer from straightaway to make it 105-98 with less than four minutes left and waved his arms to the cheering crowd. He added a jumper to make it 109-100 with 2:27 to go and Golden State went on to its 17th comeback win from a double-digit deficit.
Baron Davis added 21 points, Stephen Jackson had 16, and Andris Biedrins had 16 points and 14 rebounds. Azubuike scored 15 off the bench.
Josh Howard scored 36 to lead Dallas in his third straight 30-point game since Dirk Nowitzki was injured. Brandon Bass added 21 off the bench, while Jason Kidd had 13 points, 14 assists, and 9 rebounds.
Spurs 109, Rockets 88 - Tony Parker and Michael Finley scored 22 points apiece as San Antonio, which led by as many as 25 points, cruised past visiting Houston.
Luis Scola scored a season-high 24 points for the Rockets, and Tracy McGrady and Rafer Alston each had 13 points after shooting a combined 9 of 38. McGrady was just 3 of 13 in the first half - all of his baskets came on dunks.
Lakers 126, Wizards 120 - Kobe Bryant scored 6 of his 26 points in overtime as Los Angeles held off visiting Washington.
Sasha Vujacic scored 20 points, Luke Walton added 19, Vladimir Radmanovic 18, and Lamar Odom had 10 points and 13 rebounds as the Lakers notched their 50th victory.
Hawks 114, Knicks 109 - Marvin Williams scored 27 points and Joe Johnson had 25 points and a season-high 13 assists to help host Atlanta win its third straight game, increasing its lead over New Jersey to 2 1/2 games for the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Timberwolves 110, Jazz 103 - Al Jefferson had 22 points and eight rebounds, Ryan Gomes added 17 points, and Rashad McCants scored 13 of his 16 points in the second half of Minnesota's victory over visiting Utah.
Cavaliers 91, 76ers 88 - LeBron James (26 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists) made a twisting bank shot with 19.3 seconds left to put Cleveland ahead to stay against visiting Philadelphia.
Hornets 118, Raptors 111 - David West scored 32 points and Chris Paul had 20 points and 16 assists to lead New Orleans in Toronto.
Kings 120, SuperSonics 107 - Kevin Martin scored 31 points and Ron Artest had 29 as visiting Sacramento ran away from Seattle.